COURTESY OF BRIGHAM YOUNG-HAWAII
Yu Chuan Weng is Brigham Young-Hawaii's all-time kill leader with 1,706 heading into tonight's match.
Weng wraps up career as BYUH’s best
The outside hitter shook off a blood disorder to become the school’s all-time kill leader
She's been a team captain ever since stepping foot on the Cannon Activities Center court as a freshman, a sign of the faith Brigham Young-Hawaii coach Wilfred Navalta had in the leadership abilities of the 17-year-old from Taiwan.
All-American: 2002 (2nd), 2001 (1st)
All-Pacific West: 2002, 2003, 2004
All-Pacific West Academic: 2003.
NCAA Division II Freshman of Year: 2002
Career kills: 1,706
Single-season kills: 574
Single-match kills: 43
Single-season attempts: 108
x-Single-season digs: 33
x-Ties school record
Yu Chuan Weng's English wasn't her strong point, but her volleyball skills needed no translation. She quickly adapted to Hawaii and to the American version of the sport with the only expectations being a college degree and to help her team be successful.
Along the way, she also managed to become the Seasiders' all-time kill leader. The outside hitter finishes her regular-season career when No. 19 BYUH (19-4, 8-3 PacWest) takes on No. 2 Hawaii Pacific (22-2, 10-1) at St. Andrew's Priory tonight at 7:30.
Likely, only one of the island powers will make it to next week's NCAA Division II West Regional.
With the conference no longer receiving an automatic bid, the postseason fate is left in the hands of the selection committee, which will make its decision tomorrow. (The top eight teams in the regional poll will advance to the Pacific Regional Tournament. Currently, HPU is second nationally but fourth in the region; BYUH is tied with two others for sixth in the region. The poll came out prior to the Seasiders' win Tuesday).
A win tonight by the Seasiders, coupled with their upset of the Sea Warriors on Tuesday, might be enough to sway the committee in BYUH's favor and even get both island teams in. Weng's only goal is to play as hard as she can and see what happens.
"I'm hoping we can play for the (national) championship," Weng said. "I'm a senior, it's my last year. I push myself harder to make sure we do well."
A medical condition hasn't allowed Weng to be the collegiate player she could have been, according to Navalta. Weng came to Laie with impressive credentials -- Taiwan junior and senior national team member, outstanding hitter of the Asian high school championship -- as well as a red-blood-cell problem that affects her stamina.
"If her (red-blood-cell) count goes too low, she cannot practice," Navalta said. "There are days when she cannot push herself. It's amazing what she has done despite everything. Ahh, but she could have been even better.
"What I like about her is how emotionally stable she is, doesn't get too high or too low. She brings such a calmness to the team. She's very humble and always willing to help out.
"She leads by example."
At 5-foot-9, she is only slightly taller than the average height on the Seasider roster. But Weng, who touches 9-6 1/2, has been anything but average.
The senior leads the country in kill average (7.06 kpg), nearly half the team average (16.71). She has the capability to go off on any night, with seven matches of 30-plus kills, including a school-record 43 in a five-game win against Hawaii-Hilo on Oct. 25, best in the nation this season.
In that match with the Vulcans, Weng broke the BYUH career record held by four-time All-American Arlete Silva (1,615). Weng has 1,706 heading into tonight's match with HPU.
"I didn't know about the record," she said. "I just play each match. I didn't know how many kills I had (against Hilo) until they announced it.
"My teammates helped me in all my records."
Navalta said he would rank Weng among the top four of his greatest left-side players, right up there with All-American Irae Utu.
"I didn't know she was close to Arlete's record," Navalta said. "Basically, the only statistics I care about is how many national titles we've won."
The Seasiders have 10, eight NAIA and two NCAA Division II titles. The last was in 2002, Weng's first season, when she was named the Division II Freshman of the Year.
"The goal is to win another and this is my last chance," she said. "I don't think I'm going to be playing volleyball any more."
Weng graduates in the spring with a degree in exercise science. She will return home to Taiwan and rejoin the national team as an assistant coach for next year's Asian Games.
She hopes to return to the U.S. to pursue a master's degree, possibly as a graduate assistant. Weng's eventual goal is to become Taiwan's head coach.
"I like the mental challenge of volleyball," Weng said. "I think coaching will be good for me.
"I will miss it here. I will be sad to leave."
But Weng leaves knowing she has left a mark on the program.